Monday, November 5, 2007

Last Lake Superior rolls of the season

On our way back from the Grouse Kill the boys and I hit Bark Bay for what we expect will be the last Lake Superior paddle of the '07 season. Bark Bay is one of the most intriguing spots on the South Shore. It is a large horseshoe bay between Cornucopia and Herbster, WI. and has the classic tombolo sandspit with a slough behind it that occurs on sandy areas facing northeast on Lake Superior. There are identical features on many of the Apostles, most notably Stockton and Madeline Islands, and they are formed when the November storms hammer the shore. It can seen well on both the map and the photo. The photo is looking east toward the Bark river with the lake on the left and slough on the right.

That slough is full of migrating waterfowl, cool bogs and hummocks, and (don't tell anyone!) big predator fish in the spring. The other great thing is that the Bark River is usually running high enough so you can paddle out of the slough and right into Lake Superior. If you can't paddle anywhere else on a windy day you can usually get out on to Bark Slough and its large enough and interesting enough to spend an afternoon or three. Bark Bay itself is protected enough in three directions but if you get a north or northeast wind things get interesting. With the Bark River flowing north into the lake and the swells rolling in against the river current you can get some big steep breaking waves. As you paddle along in the slough the wind in the white pines and the waves crashing on the beach 50 yards away are almost deafening.

Sunday we launched from the DNR landing and took a leisurely paddle through the slough, out the river channel, and into the lake. The sky was deep blue and the air was so clear you could see Eagle and Sand Islands on the western end of the Apostles. We all knew it was likely the last Lake Superior paddle of the year and when GalwayGuy said something about rolling, RonO commented that, "It just must be done". So we landed on the beach, stowed our gear, and paddled out to test the waters. Amazingly enough, Lake Superior weighed in at 48F, which was 6 degrees warmer than Lake O; more water to cool down I guess. In any event, here are the rollers:

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